Individualism and the role of the individual in British and French socialism : the early years, 1800-1848
Bush, Robert D.
University of Kansas
This item is protected by copyright and unless otherwise specified the copyright of this thesis/dissertation is held by the author.
MetadataShow full item record
Individualism is a topic which·has received but scant treatment by modern scholars, although it is a subject which has prompted a great deal of commentary within the socialist movement itself. There has not been thus far any scholarly attempt to treat this topic as it relates to the Utopian Socialists or the early nineteenth century. The role of' the individual in the writings of' this school of socialist thought is a relatively untouched area of investigation. Although researchers have examined many sources for the term “ individualism,” none of them have used the numerous dictionaries of the period, 1800•1848, to explain their findings further. And, no study has sought to place both of these problems, the origins and history of individualism and the role of the individual, together into one project. As will be developed in the text, these two problems were interrelated for the six thinkers treated below.· As·the title indicates, this study has attempted to gather and digest the major thoughts of early nineteenth century British and French socialists on but one main subject:· individualism and the role of' the individual. Specifically this effort involves consideration of several questions. How did each thinker contribute toward the meaning of' the term “individualism” as it finally appeared about mid-century?· In what ways did they view the role of the individual not only under the existing social order, but in their respective alternatives to that order? As writers they faced the dilemma of indicating the rights due to both the collective social body and of each individual in it. How does one secure both the blessings of mankind, and yet realize the wealth drawn from individual spontaneity? What is, therefore, the true social contract? Furthermore, to what extent were these various intellectuals influenced in their decisions by their own national experiences? Clio was subjected to a great many pressures in order to “prove” a number of vastly different social programs. Never, in fact, was there such a pressing concern for the rights of the most numerous and the poorer elements in society. All of the thinkers examined here--Owen, Fourier, Saint-Simon, Proudhon, Cabet and Blanc--were agreed that the existing system of property relations generated and perpetuated a ·morally evil and inefficient social system. Western industrialization had brought, or was .bringing, a social order based upon dehumanization and automatism. Thus, the key question was, to quote Louis Blanc again "how to change it?" Their persistent love of humanity led such intellectuals to seek out the real, not necessarily the true, laws· of nature and history. Such laws, they assumed, existed a priori in the universe. It is the thesis of this study that, although the term individualism was used by a number of critics, the application of this term to specific social conditions which ought to be changed came from the pens of the six Utopian Socialists treated here. It was they who provided the main connotations given to individualism by various dictionaries. For this reason, only passing attention has been given to the various schools founded on their behalf. Within the chronological and geographical framework of this study, the writings of the six thinkers examined here constitute the most important sources in the early socialist movement.
Ph.D. University of Kansas, History 1969
- Dissertations 
- History Dissertations and Theses 
Items in KU ScholarWorks are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.
We want to hear from you! Please share your stories about how Open Access to this item benefits YOU.